News 12 at 11 o'clock / Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- These people are "mad as Sam Hill," because there's an actual hill on top of some people's graves.
After paying for what is supposed to be perpetual care, they say seeing plots in this state is just downright disrespectful.
Instead of a peaceful visit to a loved one's grave, a sight around the edges of Cedar Grove Cemetery has a couple of families distracted and mad.
"Would you like to see this on your grandparents' grave? It's a shame, and it's a disgrace," said Mattie Mitchell as she stood atop one of the two mounds of dirt in the cemetery that hides some families' graves.
Earl Pinkerton's mother and father are buried right next to the mound of dirt. Every time he comes to pay a visit, he says he gets sick to his stomach.
"I wouldn't want to say it on the news. It make you want to stand up and vomit. That's what it makes you do," he said.
Now Pinkerton is calling on commissioners because seeing the state of the plots around their families' graves has him -- and Mitchell -- fired up.
"Up under there. Just imagine how many graves is up under there," said Mitchell, pointing to the mound of dirt right next to her family plot. "That's burying people twice!"
"When you see your people buried in an area where people give you the impression that they don't care, that will really make you angry," Pinkerton said.
"Look at the sinkholes," said Mitchell as she stepped knee-deep into a sunken grave. "Look at how deep that is. You probably are standing right on the grave, the casket could be here, look at that!"
You have to battle the branches of a fallen tree to even find the grave of one of the World War II veterans buried here.
As a veteran himself, Pinkerton says this kind of care is unacceptable.
"They have got prisoners of war buried at Fort Gordon, Axis soldiers, and I guarantee you won't find dirt and junk piled up in front of their graves. And those were people that we fought," he said.
So now they are fighting their own battles and want this side of the cemetery cleaned up.
"It says that the city of Augusta perpetual don't care, because when you talking about perpetual care, you sending people down here to maintain it, you're not gonna stock pile no dirt like the landfill. You're just not gonna do that to dead people," Mitchell said.
Commissioners were called to be out there with us, but the families are now hoping these images can get the city's attention. So far it has.
District Commissioner Matt Aitken plans on doing a walk-through this week.
Not all cemeteries are responsible for upkeep, but in this case, it is the city's responsibility.
It's a perpetual care cemetery, which means the maintenance and upkeep of the graves are included in the cost of the plot.